Baltimore Sun

Kids in the Kitchen | Chili is great for hectic lives

Back-to-school season is notoriously busy. Re-establishing school and homework routines can be a challenge. Throw in sports, clubs and other after-school activities, and sitting down for a family dinner sometimes feels nearly impossible.

For chef Nikki McGowan of CKCS Foods Studio in Howard County, busy dinners are easy when her fridge is stocked with leftovers. One of her favorite meals is a kid-friendly, bean-free chili that can be made in large quantities and reheated quickly throughout the week.


"With everyone so busy getting back into the swing of things, it's great to have a quick, fun meal that can be reheated and eaten for a few days after you make it," she says.

McGowan based her simple recipe on the chili served at Clyde's Restaurant in Columbia. "It was the first restaurant I worked in," she explains. "Their chili is sweet and spicy at the same time. My kids love it!"


Nikki's Sweet & Spicy Chili

Yields 10 bowls

5 pounds ground beef

1 cup chili powder 

22 ounces chili sauce

Shredded cheese

Diced raw onions

Sour cream


Tortilla chips

1 Place the meat, chili powder and chili sauce in a large pot over medium heat.

2 Cook for about 45 minutes. Initially, break the meat up with a wooden spoon so it cooks evenly. After it is broken up, stir the chili every few minutes and make sure that the meat on the bottom of the pot is not burning.

3 When you're ready to serve, set out bowls of shredded cheddar cheese, diced raw onions and sour cream to put on top of the chili. "I also set out a bag of tortilla chips," says McGowan. "Dipping the chips in chili makes dinner more fun."

4 Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days – or freeze them to eat later. When you're ready, thaw the chili overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Note: When buying ingredients in large quantities, McGowan relies on warehouse stores like Sam's Club and Costco. Buying chili sauce and chili powder in small containers can be expensive when you need large amounts – and this recipe requires a lot of both.